UPDATE: Rain causes delays at local airports

UPDATE, 12:15 p.m.: Wet weather in South Florida has resulted in 237 delayed flights and 23 cancellations at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, officials said in a tweet posted just after noon.

ORIGINAL POST: The heavy rain inundating South Florida is causing delays at local airports.

As of 8:30 a.m., there were 125 delays and 20 cancellations at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Airport officials took to Twitter to urge passengers to check with their airlines for flight status information.

At Palm Beach International, there were 11 delays and 1 cancellation as of 9:45 a.m., according the the airport’s website.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also reporting delays in  San Francisco, Newark,  Washington, D.C., and Teterboro, New Jersey.

Check with your airline if you have a flight today.



UPDATE: Delays reported at PBIA, Fort Lauderdale airports

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: There were 9 delayed flights and three cancellations at Palm Beach International Airport as of 4 p.m.

The majority of those delays were caused by weather problems in New York and New Jersey, an airport spokeswoman said.

ORIGINAL POST: Rain across South Florida and weather in the northeastern part of the country may be creating delays for flights into and out of local airports.

As of 11 a.m., Palm Beach International Airport reported 12 delayed departing flights and one canceled departing flight.

RELATED: Bye-bye sun: It’s likely a week of heavy rain and thunderstorms

In addition, 20 flights scheduled to arrive at PBIA have been delayed and one has been canceled, according to the airport’s website.

MORE: Top summer staycation spots in Palm Beach County

At the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, dozens of departing flights are delayed.

The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting departure delays at the airport of  15 minutes or less.

Arrivals are delayed between 16 minutes and 30 minutes, the FAA reports.

Newark, La Guardia and Boston are also experiencing delays.

Check with your airline if you have a flight today.

Visit Florida to use donated billboards to battle budget cut

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, said Monday it will use donated billboards to urge motorists to call lawmakers and ask for more money to promote Florida as an international vacation destination.

This billboard, along southbound Interstate-95 near the 195 exit in Miami, is among several billboards in South Florida boasting quick ER timing by different hospitals. It was photographed Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011.

In an email message to tourism industry officials across the state, Visit Florida President and CEO Ken Lawson said Lamar Advertising will be donating space on dozens of digital billboards over the next two weeks to showcase the message “Keep Tourism Fully Funded – Call Your Legislator.”

RELATED: Will Visit Florida budget cuts help other states win tourists?

The Florida Legislature last month approved an $83 billion budget that sets aside just $25 million for the state’s tourism marketing agency, Visit Florida — a $50 million cut from the agency’s 2016 spending plan. Gov. Rick Scott had pushed for $100 million for tourism marketing.

RELATED: Tourists continue to visit Florida in record numbers

On Friday,  Scott reached a deal with legislative leaders to hold a three-day special session in Tallahassee this week to direct more money to education, tourism promotion and economic incentives.

Despite a push from school districts and Democrats unhappy with the level of education spending, Scott did not follow through on his threat to veto the entire $83 billion budget, choosing instead to use his line-item veto authority to prune $410 million in funding for local projects across the state as he signed the overall package.

In his email, Lawson urged tourism leaders across the state to continue to push for more tourism marketing money.

“This week’s special session provides us the opportunity to once again advocate for a fully funded Visit Florida,” he wrote. “We ask you to positively and respectfully call and email your local legislators to tell them how Visit Florida drives visitors to your community and puts money into your back pocket.”

Palm Beach County tourism officials are also urging locals to call state lawmakers and press for more state funding.

Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization, said a cut to Visit Florida’s budget “greatly impairs” the ability to market the state as a tourism hot spot, harming all tourism-related businesses in Florida.

“A highly-weakened Visit Florida will result in fewer visitors, less tourism spending and the loss of thousands of jobs,” Pesquera wrote in an email to local tourism leaders.


Silver Airlines joins TSA pre-check

Silver Airways announced on Monday that it is now participating in the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA pre-check program, a credentialing that allows passengers a quick route through security.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Silver customers who are part of the pre-check program can add their “Known Traveler Number” during the booking process or attach it to an existing reservation under the Manage Travel section of silverairways.com

MORE: PBIA looks to re-establish non-stop flight to Los Angeles

“Silver’s convenient business and leisure-friendly schedule provides travelers with easy access to an extensive network of destinations throughout Florida and the Bahamas with new everyday low Escape Fares launched this week that make it cheaper to fly than drive,” said Silver Airways President and CEO Sami Teittinen.  “Now, in our continuing efforts to provide safe, reliable, customer-friendly service, we are thrilled to be offering our customers yet another added convenience with TSA Pre✓® expedited screening.”

RELATED: Record number of tourists visit PBC; did Ballpark help?

Silver Airways last month began offering non-stop service between Palm Beach International Airport and Key West. The airline also operates daily service from PBIA to Tampa and the Bahamas: Bimini, Nassau and Marsh Harbour.

Silver operates a fleet of 34-seat Saab 340B Plus turboprop aircraft.


Southwest to launch new service from Ft. Lauderdale with opening of new concourse

Just in time for the busy summer travel season, Southwest Airlines plans to launch a number of new international flights from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to several Caribbean destinations.

The airline announced earlier this year that a new five-gate international concourse set to open at the airport would allow it to offer service between Ft. Lauderdale and four new international destinations  — George Town, Grand Cayman; Belize City; Cancun, Mexico; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. Those flights are expected to begin on June 4.

RELATED: Silver Airways starts non-stop service between PBIA and Key West 

In November, Southwest said it plans to add nonstop flights between Ft. Lauderdale and two more destinations —  San Jose, Costa Rica and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

From Ft. Lauderdale, Southwest’s international flights already include several cities in Cuba as well as Nassau, Bahamas.

RELATED: Record number of tourists visit PBC; did Ballpark help?

The new concourse is expected to open next month. Initially, it will be used by Southwest Airlines and Silver Airways, airport officials said.

Silver Airways offers international flights between Ft. Lauderdale and  Bimini, Freeport, George Town, Governor’s Harbour, Marsh Harbour, North Eleuthera and Treasure Cay in the Bahamas.


Legoland temporarily cuts price of “Awesomer” Annual Pass

Just in time for summer, Legoland Florida has temporarily dropped the price of its “Awesomer” annual pass, which offers admission to six separate attractions, including the resort’s two parks.

WINTER HAVEN, FLORIDA — LEGOLANDAE Florida celebrates the launch of the first-ever, full length theatrical LEGOAE adventure, “The LEGOAE MovieTM”, with a movie-themed weekend in the park on Feb. 8 and 9, 2014. Guests can head to their local theatre to watch “The LEGO Movie,” opening nationwide on Friday, February 7, 2014, and then come to LEGOLAND Florida to see LEGO come to life amidst more than 50 rides, shows and attractions and special movie-themed fun all geared for families with children ages 2 to 12. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida, Merlin Entertainments Group, Chip Litherland)

The Memorial Day weekend flash sale reduces the price of the pass to $99, down from $149. The discount will be available through Monday, or “while supplies last,” Legoland said.

RELATED: Memorial Day Sales: Here’s where you’ll find the deepest discounts

The pass provides unlimited access to Legoland’s theme park, its water park, and four other attractions: The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando, and Atlanta’s LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

Passholder also receive other perks, including: free parking at all attractions; early access to Legoland Florida Theme Park, and discounts on park food, beverage and retail purchases.

MORE: Check out these staycation steals for summer

The $99 price only available online and is limited to six Awesomer Passes per transaction.





With Baywatch release, tourism leaders tout Palm Beach County’s best beaches

Several scenes from the new Baywatch movie were filmed at beaches in southern Palm Beach County, and local tourism officials are hoping to use the film’s release to convince out-of-town travelers the area is the “ultimate beach destination.”

In a public relations push launched one-day after the movie’s release, county tourism officials touted 10 of the county’s top beach spots, including South Inlet Park, where portions of the Baywatch reboot were filmed.

Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson, who star in the new Baywatch movie


“As a prime filming location for the Baywatch film, The Palm Beaches, Florida paves the way as the ultimate beach destination, with several scenes filmed at the luxurious Boca Raton Resort & Club and South County Inlet Park,” Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s tourism marketing arm, wrote in its public relations pitch.

The push comes as marketers turn away from more traditional forms of tourism advertising, as more travelers turn to social media for help with travel decisions.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have slash funding for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm. With less money to market the state as a tourism hot spot, destination marketing organizations across Florida are looking for new and innovative ways to stay at the top of travelers’ minds.

RELATED: How social media influencer sells Palm Beach County tourism

Some tourism leaders argue movies like “Baywatch” can be used to help influence travelers’ decisions.

Take Netflix’s dramatic series “Bloodline,” which is credited for inspiring at least 30,000 overnight trips to the Florida Keys in 2015. Those out-of-town visitors spent more than $65 million during their stay, according to a marketing study commissioned by Monroe County.

South Inlet Park was used for filming part of the new Baywatch movie in Boca Raton on May 19, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

With Baywatch, film crews closed the parking lot at South Inlet Park last year to film scenes for the movie —  a motion picture based on the popular 1990s television show.

The movie stars Zac Efron and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and is directed by Seth Gordon.

Paramount Pictures split filming for the movie between South Florida and Georgia, where lawmakers offer large tax incentives to entice production companies to come to their state.

Florida lawmakers killed a similar tax incentive program last year.

That isn’t stopping Palm Beach County tourism officials from trying to capitalize on Baywatch’s release.

“From the fabulous glistening waters of Lake Worth Pier to the infinite stretches of golden sand along Delray Beach, here are 10 of The Palm Beaches’ 47 miles of beaches, proving the destination as the ultimate beach getaway,” Discover said in its marketing effort. “Keep your eyes peeled for lifeguards at the ready!”

The Boca Inlet and South Inlet Park were used for filming part of the new Baywatch movie in Boca Raton on May 19, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Here is Discover’s complete beach list:

South Inlet Park – Boca Raton, Fla

Used as a key filming location, The South County Inlet Park, as seen in Baywatch’s opening scene, is certainly not to be missed. With a beautiful array of aquatic life and interesting underwater rock formations, this is a great snorkelling spot. The beach has a small and intimate feel, allowing guests to fish from the shoreline or the jetty. Water sport enthusiasts are also free to take a break from jumping the waves in inlet, by picking a good, soft spot of sand.

Delray Beach, Fla.

Classed as Florida’s village by the Sea, Delray Beach is a place infused with style, cultural goings on and places to find serenity. Enjoy strolls along the inviting sidewalks, gourmet restaurants, friendly bistros, and outdoor cafes with boutiques, gift shops, and performing art centres for a vibrant streetscape.

Lake Worth Pier – Lake Worth, Fla

Here you can stand atop the Atlantic Ocean on one of the most breath-taking piers in The Palm Beaches to watch the sunrise. If you are an early riser, enjoy breakfast at Benny’s On the Beach and watch the surfers or beachgoers.

Carlin Park – Jupiter, Fla.

In the northernmost region of The Palm Beaches, discover the wonderful beachfront park with volleyball, tennis, softball and even bocce ball in Jupiter’s Carlin Park. Run or walk the exercise course that features multiple unique training stations. After, grab a bite to eat at Duke’s Lazy Loggerhead Café, a quaint dinner nestled along the beach.

Juno Beach Park – Juno Beach, Fla. 

Say hello to the most beautiful sunrise spot in Juno Beach. Experience the beautiful orange glow dipping behind the waves as its sets over The Palm Beaches iconic pier. Juno Beach is also one of the most densely nested beaches in the world for sea turtles. If you’re looking to spot one, stop by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, which is dedicated to rehabilitating injured sea turtles.

Riviera Municipal Beach – Riviera Beach, Fla.

Discover a beach with a splash of activity, such as hiking and bike paths. This is the perfect spot for those who enjoy a gentle jog in the warm breeze. Delight yourselves in the seven miles of sparkling golden sandy beach.

Phil Foster Park – Riviera Beach, Fla.

Experience the world-famous waters in Phil Foster Park, most notably recognized for its abundance of marine life and the Underwater Snorkel Trail. This is a premier spot for scuba divers and beginner snorkelers alike. Giant starfish and brightly-coloured tropical fish populate the waters, making a stunning underwater show.

Palm Beach Municipal Beach- Palm Beach, Fla.

Big and beautiful with spectacular vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, Palm Beach Municipal Beach is a sight to behold. Sit by the promenade and enjoy the fantastic views, or enjoy a nice walk along the stretch of pristine sand.

Coral Cove Park – Tequesta, Fla.

One of the more northern beaches in the county and one that cannot be missed. If you enjoy a quieter beach but still want the benefits of great snorkelling, shelling and paddle boarding, this is the place. Also, enjoy the limestone rock formations that make for great photos

Boynton Beach, Fla.

Boynton’s beachfront beauty is a must see. Known as America’s Gateway, dividing the heart of the Florida Everglades and the Gulf Stream, beach lovers can enjoy a warm, relaxing sea breeze infused with “Old Floridian” charm.



Memorial Day Sales: Here’s where you’ll find the deepest discounts

If you are planning to shop the Memorial Day sales this weekend, you may want to consider these tips before you hit the stores.

The deal-hunting website FatWallet.com has put together a list of recommendations on what to buy, and what to skip this Memorial Day.

RELATED: New food tour in Delray Beach offers taste of Atlantic Avenue

The website says you can expect to save big on summer travel,  clothing and mattresses. But the site’s deal hunters suggest waiting to purchase other big-ticket items like laptops and power tools.

Here is FatWallet.com’s complete list of recommendations:

Summer Clothing – BUY

Roughly 34 percent of Memorial Day shoppers buy clothes and another 21 percent buy shoes. Expect dozens of site-wide discounts from top retailers, including 20-50 percent  off shorts, tanks, sandals and swimwear, swarm the best deals of the weekend.

Mattresses – BUY

Traditionally, there is no better time to buy a mattress, or mattress sets, than during Memorial Day sales when all specialty sleep, furniture and department store retailers offer their biggest savings and brand selection of the year.

Laptops – WAIT

There are always one-off sales for laptops, especially older models. While a healthy 12 percent of shoppers will look for deals on electronics during Memorial Day sales, the best time to buy a new laptop is during Back to School sales in July, or on Black Friday when selection and prices on MacBooks, touchscreen laptops and 2-in-1 hybrid tablet/laptops can drop as much as 50 percent.

Patio Furniture / Grills – BUY and WAIT 

Spring discounting on patio furniture and grills hit its peak during Memorial Day weekend. Prices go back up in June until summer clearance in the fall when these items are cheapest, but are also ready for storage.

Lawn & Garden Supplies – BUY

As annual retail sales eclipse $6 billion, May brings sweeping spring sales on lawn and gardening supplies that ramp up to Memorial Day. Holiday deals offer some of the best seasonal discounts on mulch, soil, plant food, fertilizers, pesticides and grass seed.

Power Tools – WAIT

A recent survey reports Father’s Day is the best time to buy tools, and 1 in 10 buy them as gifts for dads. Although some tool deals in May offer good savings, especially for outdoor power equipment, waiting until June offers a better over-all selection of savings options that can rival Black Friday tool deals.

Summer Travel – BUY 

While only 11 percent name Memorial Day as the best time for summer travel, the holiday signals urgency for securing summer vacation bookings. Online travel sites like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and hotels.com compete to feature their best offers on airfare and hotel deals, cruise deals and car rental coupons for Memorial Day shoppers.

Silver Airways starts non-stop service between PBIA and Key West

Silver Airways today will begin offering non-stop service between Palm Beach International Airport and Key West.

Silver will offer one flight per day, five days a week — Thursdays through Mondays.

MORE: PBIA looks to re-establish non-stop flight to Los Angeles

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Silver operates a fleet of  34-seat Saab 340B Plus turboprop aircraft. The company announced this spring that it planned to launch the new Key West service, initially offering promotional fares of up to 50 percent off to help entice travelers to fly the route.

RELATED: Record number of tourists visit PBC; did Ballpark help?

On Thursday, Silver’s website listed one-way flights from PBIA to Key West for as low as $89, depending on the departure date.

The company also plans to offer one-stop service between Palm Beach International and Tallahassee.

“The addition of non-stop service to Key West and same plane Tallahassee service gives our passengers the ease and convenience of PBI and great, new destinations.  We are excited to expand our partnership with Silver Airways and happy to offer more options for our travelers,” said Bruce Pelly, director of Airports for Palm Beach County.

Silver Airways also operates daily service from PBIA to Tampa and the Bahamas:  Bimini, Nassau and Marsh Harbour.


New food tour in Delray Beach offers taste of Atlantic Avenue

Delray Beach-based Craft Food Tours opened its doors in December, offering both tourists and locals a chance to eat their way through a 1.1-mile tour of the city.

The company, run by owner Matt Guidice and his business partner Anthony Guzman, offers three-hour walking tours with stops at six restaurants in downtown Delray Beach.

MORE: Culinary tours bolster Palm Beach County’s tourism menu

Since opening six months ago, Craft Food Tours has hosted roughly 45 groups. Public tours are offered on weekends.

Now the company is looking to expand.

Guidice, who recently decided to quit his full-time job with a bank in Miami to focus on growing the tourism business, said he plans to launch a Thursday night tour for locals this summer. By the start of the winter tourism season, he plans to offer tours Tuesdays through Sundays.

Guidice also hopes to begin offering private tours for large groups.

Since opening last year, the tour company has built up its reputation on the tourism-related website TripAdvsior. The site now ranks Craft Food Tours among the Top 10  “Things to Do” in Delray Beach.

Craft Food Tours is one of four local businesses seizing on a growing trend in the tourism industry — food-themed travel.

RELATED: New beer bus offers tours of Palm Beach County’s local breweries

“The great thing about these tours is that a lot of them introduce you to local restaurants you may not have experienced on your own,” said Ashley Svarney, the Director of Public Relations and Communications at Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s tourism marketing organization.  “That is what more and more travelers want. They want to know these local places that they can only experience when they visit a place like The Palm Beaches.”

As many as 40 percent of U.S. travelers plan their vacations around food, according to the World Food Travel Association. In Palm Beach County, 28 percent of all tourists cite culinary motivations as the reason for their visit, tourism officials have said.

“Food is really the only universal language,” Guidice said.

After taking roughly 20 food tours in cities across the world, Guidice said he decided to start his own. Guidice and Guzman decided to launched the company in Delray Beach.

The tours cost $65 for adults and include 12 tastings, 2 cocktails and a craft beer.

The company partners with eight restaurants in Delray Beach, including several smaller spots,  Guidice said.

“We have fantastic relationships” with the restaurants, Guidice said. “Without the restaurants we can’t do the food tour.”

The rise of culinary tours in Palm Beach County is a testament to the area’s flourishing food scene,  Svarney said.

“The culinary scene it really is taking off, and more and more people are noticing,” Svarney said.

The county’s culinary tours can also help drive business to area restaurants, she added.

“These culinary tours have the opportunity to produce more business for these restaurants and bars later on down the road,” Svarney said. “These visitors might have samples of a very small dish that they fell in love with and maybe the come back and enjoy a full dinner or a full lunch.”